Saturday 16th April 2016 ko 14.00
Carmarthenshire League Division Two
LLANDEILO 5 (Jones 5 90 Dainton 9 Thomas 26 Willams 59)
LLANGENNECH 0 J Williams sent off 29 (violent conduct)
From Abergwili we headed further east along the A40 to the town of Llandeilo. We turned left into the town and spotted a well-apppointed ground, with an impressive stand. Sadly for us, that was Cae William, home to Llandeilo RUFC and Llandeilo CC, while the football club plays in the nearby village of Ffair-Fach at the back of Ysgol (School) Bro Dinefwr. The tragedy is that it could have all been so different.
The football club were offered a part share of Cae William as part of the site’s redevelopment for the millenium, but couldn’t raise the funds, so remain in exile with the another move to another school in the offing as Bro Dinefwr is due for refurbishment.
The coach pulled into Bethleham Road, and imediately had a small problem. We knew about the railway bridge, but the club had assured us that all the school coaches manage to fit underneath. Trust us to have the tallest bus in the fleet!
It was only a short walk, and let’s face it plenty of us could use the exercise! I found the club officials, who were doing a fine job with few volunteers, but there was a major problem, where were the visitors? I dashed off to the changing rooms, and as Llangennech turned up 10 minutes before the scheduled kick-off, I had a series of interesting conversations.
The first was with referee Simon Downes, who surprised me by not having a Welsh accent! It turns out he’s a former pro at the likes of Luton Town, who took up the whistle when injury ended his career. The other was with the the Llangennech players as they arrived with 5 minutes before the scheduled kick-off.
I say interesting, and I do mean interesting as since the evening game at Johnstown wasn’t light-dependant a little slippage wasn’t a massive issue. The impression I got was that the pace of life here is more relaxed, so if games kick-off late, so be it. That’s contrary to how GroundhopUK would normally operate, that time between the crowd arriving and kick-off is when clubs make their money, so a delay tends to eat into that pre-game money-making time a the next game.
Fortunately, that didn’t happen here, and we were only delayed by 15 minutes and when I walked over to the pitch with the players and referee, Simon gave me another of my “Gap in perception,” moments. I looked over to the crowd and fretted that we’d be lucky to see 100 people, we’d obviously lost a few to the Carmarthen Town game. Simon whistled through his teeth and whispered to me,
“Crumbs! You’ve got a few here haven’t you?”
And in odd way we were both correct. It was a low crowd, by GroundhopUK standards, but for a club playing on a school pitch in rural West Wales it was an absolute god-send. This hop was a real learning curve for all concerned.
With Llangennech being light in numbers with just one substitute, and late it came as little surprise that they were steamrollered in 30 minutes. That was a half hour made completely impossible by Lewis Williams’ dismissal for aiming a headbutt that missed. From then on the result was never in any doubt, but we did see something extremely unusual.
In the 70th minute there was a double substitution, Matthew Thomas for Llandeilo, and Chris Cosslett for Llangennech were both injured and both left the field of play, with no substitute available for Cosslett. But have you seen that happen when both players are goalkeepers? I haven’t and I’m not sure anyone else had either, it rated as unusual as seeing a goalkeeper take a corner at St Dogmaels during our years in the Ceredigion League.
But then, if you want the unusual, you do have to look to the obscure and this game and ground proved the point!